WHILE youngsters around the county enjoyed have enjoyed many ‘snow days’ this winter, Oxfordshire’s gritter have really gone the extra mile to keep drivers moving.

With the worst of the weather now hopefully over, the scale of the work carried out be these teams has been revealed.

Oxfordshire County Council has sent its gritting teams out 76 times since November, with the fleet of vehicles travelling the equivalent of nearly four times around the world - more than 90,000 miles.

The previous year they went out 45 times.

With several bouts of snow, and many nights of below freezing temperatures, this has been one of the busiest winters for the team.

Paul Wilson, the man in charge of gritting, said: “It was certainly a winter with a far different character than most of those we’ve had this decade.”

The council also had to put the snowploughs on to the gritters four times – something not needed in Oxfordshire since 2012/13.

A massive 16,000 tonnes of rock salt was used to ensure as many vehicles as possible remained on the roads.

The first heavy snowfall came in the weeks before Christmas.

Mr Wilson said: “We’d set up ready the day before and sent the gritters out with the snowploughs attached and managed to get all the main roads clear – but that was quite some snow event for Oxfordshire and there was some particularly low temperatures in the nights following that meant the snow hung around for a while.

“We had another very active period between Christmas and New Year before further busy times during January and February although it wasn’t until the first day or two of March that we had to get the snowploughs out again.”

Many thought the worst of the snow had passed but in February the Beast form the East struck but this was not what impacted Oxfordshire the most.

Mr Wilson said:“In fact the snow we got was due to a westerly weather system, Storm Emma, crashing in to the Easterlies that had brought a lot of snow to counties to the east of us.

“A real notable feature in the west was snow drifting off fields on to the roads due to the winds – a lot of hard work went in to clearing the roads over that weekend and we had some absolutely fantastic support from the local farming community who really rolled their sleeves up and pitched in.

“I’d like to thank all the team involved in the winter operation but particularly the gritter drivers who were out on the roads at some very unsociable hours and in inhospitable conditions.

“They did the job in terms of keeping main roads passable.”

The county council has a budget of £1.1m to deal with cold weather and the harsh winter does mean this has been breached but the exact amount is unknown.”